Jan 19

Three Marks of Spiritual Maturity

Hebrews 5:11-14

Like the believers whom the author addressed in this passage, some Christians today have regressed into a second stage of spiritual infancy. Christian development should only move in one direction—toward greater spiritual maturity; believers who regress and go the wrong way run the risk of severe negative consequences in their lives. They are like a vehicle trying to go the wrong way across the angled spikes of a parking lot exit barrier. The book of Hebrews is the warning sign posted at the entrance: “Do Not Enter!”

In verse fourteen of Hebrews chapter five the author describes 3 marks of spiritual maturity by which we can evaluate our present level of spiritual development. The first mark of a spiritually mature Christian is that he is practiced in the habitual use of the Word of God. The spiritual baby is “unskilful in the Word of righteousness.” He constantly needs others to spoon-feed him in order to receive the nourishment necessary to maintain spiritual life. The spiritually mature believer, on the other hand, is one who habitually and regularly takes in the Word of God for himself and is able to understand and apply it to his daily needs “by reason of use.”

The second mark of spiritual maturity in the Christian’s life is that he “has his senses exercised.” A physical infant is incapable of relating to his environment through his five senses because they are insufficiently developed. His eyes do not focus, he hears without understanding, and he feels sensations without being able to interpret their meaning. As a result he cannot relate to the people who care for him nor respond to the events that occur around him; he is totally passive. A spiritually immature believer is similar; his spiritual senses are undeveloped and he is incapable of relating to God, other Christians, or his spiritual environment. But a spiritually mature Christian can know and relate to God personally; he is able to understand the spiritual forces which are swirling around him and respond to them properly because his spiritual senses are fully functional.

The final mark of a mature Christian is that he is able “to discern both good and evil.” His ability to discern between good and bad empowers him to make good choices in his daily life. Infants have no such discernment; they will put anything in their mouths, even poison. For this reason, adults try hard to keep such dangerous materials far out of their reach. The mature Christian is one who can distinguish good and bad and make choices that are pleasing to God. He knows the difference between healthy doctrine and spiritual poison; he recognizes the practices and customs which are worldly and sinful and those which will bring glory to God and benefit to himself and others.

As we start a new year, it is a good opportunity to renew our commitment to spiritual growth. This means primarily that we must become practiced and skillful in using the Word of God in our lives. The daily, systematic reading of the Word of God is one of the most basic disciplines of the Christian life. If we will commit to reading the Bible on a daily basis, we will soon become capable of eating a diet of “solid food” rather than spiritual baby food and set our lives on a course of healthy spiritual development.

Now is a good time to set the goal to read your Bible through completely this year. Bill Smallman of Baptist Mid-Missions has devised an Annual Bible Reading Chart which I’ve posted in Resources. This Bible reading method will help you to stay motivated and on course to read the Bible systematically from Genesis to Revelation. If you need a plan to get you on track, or if you just need a fresh approach to shake up your routine, then give this Bible reading plan a try. It might change your life.

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